There are several mental benefits of sports for teens. Physical activity, especially sports, can help teens build good habits for a better, more health-conscious lifestyle.
However, in addition to physical benefits, sports also have immense mental health benefits for teens. Regular physical activity with other kids can help teens build confidence, learn to interact with others and reap the benefits of daily exercise for their mind and body.
In this article, you will discover ten mental benefits of sports for teens.
Mental Benefits of Sports for Teens
It’s recommended that teens engage in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least once every day, seven days a week. Getting up and moving is important at every age, but it’s doubly important for teens.
Kids and teens who exercise regularly also have stronger bones and muscles later in adulthood. Achieving stronger bones and lean muscle mass (without the help of exogenous hormones) can help reduce the risk of metabolic illnesses but can also decrease the risk of injury later in life and improve longevity.
When it comes to mental health benefits, sports can be a powerful positive factor. Teenagers are at an impressionable age, where daily habits help shape who they become in adulthood.
Furthermore, teens are at greater risk of advancing mental health problems than ever before. At least some of these problems, experts fear, are due to an increasingly isolated and sedentary lifestyle. Studies show that teens who exercise regularly are less likely to struggle with depression. Engaging in sports with other teens allows them to develop crucial interpersonal skills, build a healthy sense of self-esteem, and reap the benefits of physical activity. Let’s look at some of the ways teens benefit from engaging in sports for their mental health.
Here are several mental benefits of sports for teens:
1. Sports for Stress Relief
Sports and physical activity are an excellent and healthy outlet for stress. Teens are often struggling with the emotional turmoil of adolescence; having something they can use to positively channel their stress helps them keep a cool head when dealing with their problems and avoid maladaptive coping styles.
2. How Sports Can Enhance Mood
Regular physical activity correlates with a lower rate of depression. One way this is possible is through the impact of physical activity on the mind, through the release of endorphins, a healthier self-image, and a boost to confidence.
3. Sports Improve Teen Concentration
Despite the stereotype of the jock, staying physically active is good for your concentration and cognition. Furthermore, as a testament to how physical activity can be a good habit, brain health improves with strength training, especially in older adults.
4. Sports Experience Builds Resilience
Mental resilience is a protective factor against negative changes in mood and thoughts of anxiety. Positive experiences in sports can make you more confident, but sports also provide a healthy environment to learn about loss and frustration. Learning to cope with setbacks and focus on the positives after a negative experience is an immensely valuable lesson, and one many teens learn through competition or personal goals in training.
5. Sports Camaraderie and Mental Health
Sports, especially team sports, help teens build valuable interpersonal skills and communicative skills on the field. For teens who might not have had the most positive experiences with their classmates until now, finding a sport or physical activity they enjoy can help them find a community they feel more welcome outside of school.
6. Sports for Goal Setting
Whether competitively or simply for the sake of self-improvement, sports and other physical activities help teens set and reach positive goals, and teach them the benefits of concrete, realistic goal-setting.
7. Sports and Self-Confidence
Many teens who struggle with feelings of anxiety or depression also struggle with feelings of self-doubt and a loss in confidence. While even pro athletes can struggle with mental health issues, teens and adults who continue to engage in physical activities and sports are more likely to have positive self-esteem and a healthier level of self-confidence.
8. Physical Activity and Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of teen health – and a cornerstone of any recovering athlete’s program. Enough food, enough sleep, and enough rest from the gym or the field is crucial in any athletic endeavor.
9. Sports as a Positive Coping Mechanism
Teenagers want to experiment and try things out. Having a robust and healthy coping mechanism in the form of regular physical activity and a sports community can often help keep them away from other negative coping mechanisms.
10. Sports and Mindfulness
Exercise and sports as an activity have therapeutic value, especially when it comes to teaching focus and mindfulness.
Sports can have a positive impact on a teen’s mental and physical health, but they aren’t a substitute for treatment in the case of a serious mental health issue. You can be athletic, or even achieve great feats of strength and speed on the national stage, and still struggle with a mental health issue, including anxiety.
If your teen has had a history of anxiety or depression, and is currently in treatment, then encouraging them to seek out a physical activity or sport that they might enjoy can be a good thing, especially if you give it a try with them as a friend or family member.
But if your teen might be struggling with their mental health for the first time, focus first on getting them the help they need. We at Visions work with teens, and treat a variety of mental health issues, ranging from major depressive disorder to substance use disorder. Contact us to learn more about out treatment options and programs for teens.
It’s clear that teens need to stay physically active, both for their bodies and their minds. Team sports, or physical activities with a strong sense of community and camaraderie can be a great way to build a healthy lifestyle. But there are important caveats. Pushing a teen into a sport they aren’t interested in, or emphasizing an unhealthy level of competitiveness can backfire on the teen’s physical and mental health and development.
It’s important to start with your teen’s interests and wishes. Younger teens are prone to changing interests and may try out many different sports before landing on something they stick with for years at a time. Encourage your teen to stay curious and try out different things.